There have been many attempts to fit the facts of the story to reality. Here we accept the problems. Instantly, we run into trouble. The archaeological record for Athens, established by Carbon 14 dating, only begins in circa 3000bc.
Taking into account the significant gap in dates, the possibility of a serious war between the Atlanteans (9,000bc) and the Athenians (3000bc), as presented by Timaeus & Critias, is simply not possible.
The Athenian Inconsistency
“Athens began its history as a Neolithic hill-fort on top of the Acropolis (“high city”), some time in the third millennium BC. The Acropolis is a natural defensive position which commands the surrounding plains. The settlement was about 20 kilometres inland from the Saronic Gulf, in the centre of the Cephisian Plain, a fertile dale surrounded by rivers. To the east lies Mount Hymettus, to the north Mount Pentelicus.”
This poses a very serious problem. If we accept the story of Atlantis as accurate (a land far away) but admit that Plato’s (Solons’s) description of an early Athenian civilization is wrong then we are clearly choosing to accept only that which fits-the-story. This is not acceptable Literary Forensics.
Is there an explanation of this inaccuracy? Well, there are two but neither is completely convincing. In the first there is another civilisation that predates the Athenians that was as advanced as the Atlanteans and – through the confusion of recollection – the Greeks / Egyptian priests have amalgamated the two to become an earlier Athenian people or there was an actual advanced Athenian civilisation that is now at the bottom of the Mediterranean as Plato describes. It’s interesting that he considered this problem in his writings and provided a solution. If it is not historically accurate it does show remarkable psychological cunning and forethought.
For the moment let’s accept that there was an earlier Hellenic / Athenian civilization that was destroyed by floods and rising sea levels. Could a civilisation disappear so completely? Well, yes they could. Herculaneum & Pompeii, (1748) Troy (1870+) and Akhenaten’s desert city, Armarna (1887) have all been rediscovered in fairly recent years. (The dates indicated in brackets are when they were rediscovered.) Of critical importance is that these have all been on land not under the sea. It is only in the past sixty years that serious, and expensive, exploration of sunken ruins has commenced.
So, while admittedly it is unlikely that such an Athenian civilisation existed, it could have. Plato may be on shaky ground but we still can’t prove him wrong. He himself admits that this early and advanced Athenian civilisation was swept into the sea. Is this incredibly cunning or is he just recording the facts as he knew them – you decide? Just remember that only a few hundred (not thousands) of years ago you could have been put to death (or at least imprisoned) for saying that the world was not the centre of the universe.
Problematic Triremes and Advanced Technology
“The first definite reference to the use of triremes in naval combat dates to ca. 525 BC, when, according to Herodotus, the tyrant Polycrates of Samos was able to contribute 40 triremes to a Persian invasion of Egypt.” (Wikipedia 2007).